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Common Misconceptions Regarding Visa and Status

The terms “visa” and “status” are often used loosely and even interchangeably.  However, failure to clearly understand the differences between these words can lead to unintended immigration consequences.
nonimmigrant visa is issued to an individual and placed in their passport by an official at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy which operates under the Department of State.  Visas are issued in many different categories and have varying validity dates.  Many employment-based categories require that a petition be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”)before the individual can apply for a visa.  An approved petition indicates that the individual qualifies for the visa; an approved visa grants an alien permission to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and apply for admission by way of a Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Inspector.    CBP operates under the Department of Homeland Security.
An individual can travel to the U.S. at any time during the validity of their visa, but it does not necessarily mean that they can reside in the U.S. for that entire period.  When an individual holding a valid visa arrives at a port-of-entry, a CBP Inspector makes the final determination on the applicant’s admissibility and the duration of time they are admitted for.
When an individual holding a valid visa arrives at a port-of-entry, a CBP Inspector determines admissibility and the amount of time an applicant may be admitted for.  This information is recorded on Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record.  Form I-94 determines status in the U.S.  Status is classified under the category of admission (such as visitor, student, intra-company worker) and the duration of stay permitted.  Status and period of admission are recorded by the CBP Inspector on Form I-94.
These components may be modified after an individual is admitted to the United States by making an application to CIS.  A person may request a change of status to another classification and/or they may request an extension of stay.  Of important note is that the validity period of a visa is not necessarily tied to the period of stay granted.
Berardi Immigration Law can assists clients with nonimmigrant visa applications, port-of-entry issues and changes or extensions of status.  We urge you to contact us by calling 877-721-6100 or send an e-mail by clicking here.
Page summary:  Explanation of the differences between visa and status.